Lonely Planet Writer

This Rotterdam gallery is filled with musicians instead of artwork for the next month

For the next month, visitors to the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands are in for a truly unique experience. Instead of hanging artwork or mounted installation pieces, the space will be filled with people playing music.

The Kunsthalle for Music sees the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam being filled with musicians instead of artwork.
The Kunsthalle for Music sees the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam being filled with musicians instead of artwork. Image by Nieuwe Beelden Makers

Taking place at the gallery every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until 3 March, the Kunsthalle for Music is a project by composer Ari Benjamin Meyers that sees musical performances being turned into the actual art showcased inside the gallery. “Music is not necessarily what you think it is. Can we imagine a space for music that exists outside of any media and beyond the stage? A space for un-recordable music, music of undefined duration, existing even when no audience is present?” asks Benjamin Meyers.

The ensemble sees eight musicians of different experience levels and backgrounds performing specially commissioned works.
The ensemble sees eight musicians of different experience levels and backgrounds performing specially commissioned works. Image by Nieuwe Beelden Makers

Eight musicians form the ensemble on view throughout the exhibition, having been chosen after an open call was announced for performers and players from all backgrounds, skill levels and disciplines. The lineup includes guitar, piano, violin, vocals, drums and percussion, saxophone and cello, with the ensemble performing newly commissioned works by people including contemporary artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, composer of experimental music Jonathan Bepler and The Residents. Each commissioned piece is listed on the wall, as it usual with gallery shows, despite the fact that there is no fixed timetable as to when one or the other will be performed.  Each day will see slightly different versions of the songs being played, and for this reason, the project encourages guests to attend the exhibition more than once.

The gallery will host other kinds of activity outside of full performances, such as open rehearsals.
The gallery will host other kinds of activity outside of full performances, such as open rehearsals. Image by Nieuwe Beelden Makers

Even while the whole ensemble is not present or performing, the Kunsthalle for Music keeps its doors open to the public, who may encounter other kinds of activity at the gallery space during their time there. Ensemble members may be seen practicing, or special recordings may have been left in their absence, while the project will also see school groups learning and performing a score that have been specially commissioned as part of the project.

More information on visiting the Kunsthalle for Music at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is available at the gallery’s official website.